Yeah there’s a story in Warframe. It’s a thing. It’s a weird, confusing, messed up thing. Warframe’s lore is only something you can actually figure out if you sit down and listen to what all these floating heads are telling you while you slaughter dime-a-dozen enemies, or while you’re fiddling about with your mods and browsing the market and all that. No one’s really paying attention though, and with quests being not only scattered throughout the star chart, but also only a handful of them being replayable, the average person probably won’t get it right off the bat. And on top of that, there are tidbits of lore that only popped up during one-off events, many of which haven’t been repeated.
So here’s a really stupid, probably not particularly accurate, summary of whatever the fuck is going on in the Origin System.
Alright. Deep breaths, everyone. Things are going to get weird.
We start off a long time ago (but in the far future) with a bunch of fancy pants people called the Orokin. This bunch are super good-looking humans who have their own form of immortality (called Continuity) and basically rule the solar system, while making bad ideas. Ideas include creating an adapting AI species and sending them to the next solar system over in order to prepare for Orokin settlement, experimenting on special illnesses and plagues, creating all sorts of contraptions, terramorphing and sending ships of people to Tau via a weird place called the Void because why not?
Being obnoxious twats with huge egos, things go wrong. We’ll start with sending ships into the Void because that’s where the Tenno, i.e. the players, come from.
The Zariman Ten Zero is one said ship. It was full of families with lots of kids. Because the Void is a dick, everyone went insane, all the adults died and all the kids became ageless monsters with insanely stupid powers. None of these kids can control their powers, so a nice lady called Margulis tries to teach them via lots of sleep and dreaming and bollocks like that, rather than killing them all like the Orokin want.
In the mean time, that adapting race of AI? The Sentients, the adapting bastards, were pissed off at the Orokin and wanted to kill everyone. And for a while, they were kicking the Orokin’s ass and getting themselves everywhere.
After Margulis is blown up, the Orokin are beginning to struggle. But then they realise that, by using her work, these children, now called the Tenno, would make really damn good soldiers that the Orokin could throw at the Sentients. After all, nothing else was working. But because they’re all kids, the Orokin develop mass-produced ‘suits’ – the Warframes – that the Tenno can use to channel their powers.
This last ditch effort works. The Warframes kick the Sentients’ asses and they all fuck off back to where they came. The Tenno become the Orokin’s loyal soldiers.
But the Sentients had one last trick up their sleeves. They’d placed one of their own, Natah, in the Orokin ranks, and she managed to convince the Tenno and their Warframes to kill all the Orokin in one fell swoop – during a ceremony where the Tenno were being rewarded for their usefulness. After that, Natah was supposed to have all the Tenno destroyed, but she had fallen in love with them in a motherly way and decided to put all the Tenno and Warframes asleep, hiding them in the Void where no one can get them.
Of course, with no one ruling the solar system, things went to shit. The Twin Queens, a pair of outcast Orokin girls who had been exiled simply because they were twins, take control of the working/slave class Grineer and their cloning facilities. The Corpus, made up of a mixture of the general population, also come to power, adapting their own technology from what remained of the Orokin.
Cue goodness knows how many years of these idiots all fighting.
Eventually, people start finding Warframes and they start waking up. A Grineer douchebag by the name of Admiral Vor has been going around killing the Warframes before they can wake up, but now he’s trying to capture them, in the hopes that he can use bits of Warframes to cure the defects millennia of cloning has caused to the Grineer. Apparently Warframes are the cure-all for everything.
The game starts when Admiral Vor finds you. Natah, now calling herself the Lotus, helps you escape. Vor gets demoted then tries to get you back but fails. You’re now free to make your way around the star system, unlocking planets as you do so. Oh, and there’s quests. That’s where all the lore is.
As you travel, you are introduced to the Infested, a plague-like blight that had originally been made by the Orokin. And guess what? Some Grineer moron has unleashed it again. So now you have a third faction to fight.
After that, you come across bits and pieces that point to what you really are. With the help of Ordis and some annoying bitch called Maroo, you get a cryptic message about a ‘womb in the sky’. That same message pops up while you help Cephalon Simaris locate a rogue Chroma Warframe. Clearly something’s going on. Although we never found out who was controlling that damn Chroma.
Turns out, the Sentients aren’t dead after all, they’re just kinda asleep and plotting and scheming, as they have nothing better to do. Also turns out that Sentients can have kids, as Natah is the child of a particularly nasty Sentient called Hunhow, who was buried deep in Uranus. I kid you not. Anyway, because the Grineer have accidentally been digging him up, Hunhow wakes up, realises Natah is helping the Tenno rather than destroying them, then gets blown up again.
Somehow though Hunhow puts himself inside a magic sword and then gets the Stalker, a former Orokin body guard who was unable to stop the Tenno killing the Orokin, to find this womb in the sky everyone keeps on talking about.
The womb in the sky is actually the Earth’s moon. Natah hid all the Tenno (specifically the Tenno) on the moon then hid them in the Void to protect them from Hunhow and company but Hunhow, being the telepathic, mind-controlling dick that he is, reads his daughter’s mind and sends Stalker to go and kill the Reservoir, the place where all the Tenno are sleeping.
Somehow, through sheer luck and Stalker’s hesitation, you nor the Reservoir are destroyed. Tenno and Warframe meet face to face and you manage to get back to your ship and place yourself inside your own miniature Reservoir. Which gives you new powers now that your actual body is much closer to your Warframe.
In the mean time, the Twin Queens are getting old. They’ve been using that Continuity (not the mod but a ritual) from earlier to keep themselves alive. But the Elder Queen needs a hit. This basically involves stealing someone’s body. And what better body to steal than that of an ageless teenager? So they basically lure you into a trap, using Teshin, the guy who randomly helps you and makes Tenno fight each other in the Conclave. Teshin is basically forced into helping them but wants us to help him help us help him help us… I don’t know what he wants.
Basically Teshin helps get the Elder Queen out of your brain and unlocks the ability to teleport from your ship to your Warframe and back again. As well as other powers. Again, though mostly luck, you work it all out, leaving your Warframe behind. But then you go back and save Teshin and your Warframe. And most likely kill the Elder Queen because she needs a new body and she ain’t getting one. And then everyone’s happy.
Except no one’s happy. You’re still an insufferable space kid with a bio-mechanical space suit you can teleport to and from, there’s still Grineer and Corpus all over the damn place and you can’t just wipe them all out because the Lotus says so. Oh and there’s still Sentients around, Hunhow still isn’t dead, the Infested is spreading and things are all round still pretty shitty.
And on top of that, there’s now a new threat – the man in the wall. The void stuff that gave the Tenno their powers? It’s sentient. And it’s kinda pissed off. And because of the Chains of Harrow quest, it’s now… well, free.
If it wasn’t for the promise of loot (and possibly the Lotus and her massive tits), the Tenno would have killed everyone ages ago.